Virus fears sees Geely ramp up online sales

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Updated 22 February 2020

Virus fears sees Geely ramp up online sales

  • Consumers could order and customize their cars on Geely’s website
  • Sales of passenger cars in China, the world’s largest auto market, plunged 92 percent in the first 16 days of February

BEIJING: Chinese automaker Geely has launched a service for customers to buy cars online and have them delivered directly to their homes, in a bid to drum up sales as the coronavirus outbreak prompts buyers to stay away from showrooms.

Other carmakers like Tesla, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have also started to promote products heavily online in recent weeks, as authorities warn people to stay away from public places.

Consumers could order and customize their cars on Geely’s website, it said in a statement. It will also offer test drives where potential consumers will be able to arrange a drive starting from their home address in coordination with local dealerships.

The coronavirus has killed 2,236 people and infected  over 75,400 in mainland China, and strict public health measures to contain its spread have curbed business and consumer activity.

Sales of passenger cars in China, the world’s largest auto market, plunged 92 percent in the first 16 days of February compared with the same period a year earlier, data from one industry group showed.

Victor Yang, a senior official at Geely, told Reuters promoting online sales would allow automakers to directly reach customers, and help them build experience should they want to continue to do so in future.

Geely, which is China’s most globally-known automaker thanks to its investment in Volvo and Daimler, said that car production in February is around one-third of its usual monthly output, but around 90 percent of workers will return to work by the end of this month, Yang said, adding the automaker has bought facial masks for workers and dealers.

Geely has partnered with third-party online sales platforms including Tmall, JD.com and Suning.com in the past but it is the first time the Zhejiang-based automaker is selling cars through its website. Tesla, which is building cars from its $2 billion factory in Shanghai, has been promoting online sales for years.

Nationwide car sales are likely slide more than 10 percent in the first half of the year due to the outbreak, and 5 percent in total, provided the epidemic is effectively contained by April, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) told Reuters last week. 


Kuwait props up coronavirus-hit economy amid low oil prices

Updated 50 min 15 sec ago

Kuwait props up coronavirus-hit economy amid low oil prices

  • Kuwait was first Gulf state to halt passenger flights and impose a partial curfew to stem the spread of coronavirus
  • Kuwait has drawn down on its state fund, the General Reserve Fund, to cover its deficit

KUWAIT: Kuwait announced measures early on Wednesday aimed at shoring up its economy against the coronavirus pandemic, including soft long-term loans from local banks, and the central bank asked banks to ease loan repayments for companies affected.
Kuwait, which as of March 31 had registered 289 coronavirus cases, was the first Gulf state to halt passenger flights and impose a partial curfew to stem the spread of the highly infectious respiratory illness.
The sectors most impacted by the pandemic include aviation, hospitality and real estate, a government source told Reuters.
The stimulus package approved by the cabinet aims to provide liquidity for small- and medium-sized enterprises to meet their obligations, a government spokesman said.
That includes directing government agencies to pay obligations to the private sector as soon as possible.
The central bank separately has asked lenders to postpone loan repayments for three months for companies hit by the crisis, the governor, Mohammad Al-Hashel, said in a television interview posted by the central bank on Twitter.
Kuwait is also dealing with the impact of lower oil prices on its finances that is expected to lead to a higher government fiscal deficit this year.
The government source said that, in light of the oil price fall, passing a debt law allowing Kuwait to borrow more has become a “government priority.”
Kuwait has drawn down on its state fund, the General Reserve Fund, to cover its deficit. The source said the government withdrew 43.8 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($139.70 billion) in the five years until the 2018-2019 fiscal year, and 3.7 billion dinars in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
This means the fund has around 14 billion dinars ($44.65 billion) left, the source said.
Moody’s this week placed Kuwait’s Aa2 rating on review for a downgrade, citing a “significant” decline in government revenues.
The government spokesman said maintaining Kuwait’s credit rating was one of the goals of the new economic measures.